Choosing Correct Concealment Holster
Choosing the proper holster for your home defense handgun is just as important as choosing the right handgun to fit your needs and lifestyle. A correct fitting concealment holster is important for quick access to your handgun during a home defense situation. Now is not the time to get cheap, your defensive handgun is only as good as the ability to bring it into action when needed. Just as with handguns, all holsters will not fit every need or carry situation that may come up. Unless you have unlimited resources, many times you must compromise and purchase the holster or handgun that fits most of your situations. Unless you are one of the cowboys who wants people to know that they carry a handgun, choosing the right concealment holster is important. Remember, your handgun is for your families personal safety, not to thwart a restaurant hold up. If your handgun is easily visible your family could well be the first target of the robber. When you start carrying it will soon be apparent that one holster will not meet all your needs.
When you are purchasing a handgun it is advised that you check into the availability of holsters for the model you have chosen. It does no good to get a great deal on a handgun only to find that the industry just doesn't make a good variety of holster styles for your handgun. If you are not interested in a form fitted holster and a universal nylon holster is all you want, it doesn't make a difference which handgun you purchase, as long as it is a quality handgun. Holsters are manufactured in a variety of materials including leather, nylon, plastic, kydex and in a variety of combinations.
Carrying a handgun on the strong side hip is considered to tactically be the best way to carry your handgun. Although carrying strong side on the outside allows the fastest access it may not be as concealable as an IWB (in the waistband) strong side carry. Conversely should you spend most of your day sitting in a car the seat belt will get in the way of a clean draw and the IWB will get very uncomfortable.
Other common choices are: Shoulder holster, ankle holster, in the pants, in the pocket, small of the back, fanny packs, purses, concealment apparel or no holster at all. Each has its benefits - and drawbacks.
Strong Side on Belt or Paddle
Considered to be the fastest, most comfortable and secure of all carry methods the strong side holsters are available open top, with thumb breaks or other retention methods. When wearing a handgun on the belt, having a thick belt designed for handgun carry will reduce the tendency to pull down your belt. There are too many manufactures of holsters to list them all. We have collected a group of holsters that have proven themselves in the field, and will not require you to get a 2nd mortgage. I have to admit that I do own a couple of custom rigs including an Ostrich skin belt holster that I never use, but it sure is pretty. The only negative with strong side belt or paddle carry is that they are not as concealable when carrying this way unless you wear an untucked long tailed shirt, longer jacket, vest or suit coat.
Inside the waistband holsters. If you only plan to wear a shorter jacket or T-shirt you may consider a strong side IWB holster. Although some will wear this style of holster in the small of the back or cross draw- strong side just behind the hip is considered best.
When carrying inside the waistband your belt will need to be approximately 2" longer and make sure you are not already taking up all the territory in your pants. Your belt offers tension which aids in holding the handgun close to the body improving concealablity and reducing the need for a retention strap. The IWB holsters are available in Leather, Kydex and nylon, with and without retention straps. Law Enforcement officers have an additional requirement when purchasing an IWB holster. The holster will need to retain its form when the handgun has been drawn, as they may need to re-holster one handed. Whereas a civilian won't need to do this, because the only time the handgun should come out of the holster is if it is needed. At which time the police will confiscate it until the shooting investigation has been concluded. Choosing between a form fitted leather IWB holster or a soft nylon is up to the end user, the leather will take up more room inside the pants than the nylon rig such as the Uncle Mike's IWB holsters.
Shoulder Holsters have an advantage if you spend most of your day in a vehicle, as they ride more comfortably and provide easier acces than a hip or IWB holster. Your seat belt will get in your way when attempting a seated draw from a strong sided holster. Although the favorite of many TV shows the Shoulder holster also has its negatives, you must sweep the handgun across your body to bring it on target. The shoulder holster is awkward for big guys or busty ladies for the same reason. The shoulder holster's comfort during extended trips from being suspended from the shoulders and counter balanced by off-side magazines or speed loaders is a plus. The added benefit of the extra magazines or speed loaders increases the amount of ammunition the average civilian carries, which could come in handy. We can only recommend the use of a horizontal shoulder holster. The vertical shoulder holster doesn't conceal as well and is less tactical when attempting to draw your weapon.
Small of the Back
Not our favorite method of carry. You have the least amount of security from being disarmed and the greatest potential injury if you go down. We have worked with a number of officers who carried a backup with a small of the back holster who injured their back when falling on the handgun. In fact I personally received permanent soft tissue back damage from carrying in the pants just right of my spine. When drawing the weapon you have have an increased chance of sweeping the muzzle past unintended targets.
In the Pocket
The in the pocket holster is designed to break up the out line of a small pistol and aid in keeping the handgun in position. Not to mention protecting the trigger from foreign objects and keeping dust bunnies out of the barrel. Not the fastest draw, however when your dress or circumstances dictate ultimate concealablity it works. If you move up to wearing tactical pants such as the 5.11 Tactical Series pants, the cargo pockets will hold a 5 shot J-Frame or Glock 27.
These are great for backup carry, however we do not like this carry method for your primary defensive weapon. Unless this is the only method afforded, based on the situation ( a handgun in a weak location is better than no handgun at all). Pulling the handgun from an ankle holster is slower and more awkward than the other carry methods. (Sometimes the situation requires unusual carry methods. On an undercover stakeout I had to carry a small 25acp duct taped to my butt under a swim suit! Not the best carry , however it was better than nothing.)
Once considered an excellent method for concealing a handgun the fanny back stands out in a crowd. Once again this may be the only method available to meet your needs, you must decide which fits your lifestyle and needs. Remembering that there is not one holster that will work for every situation, however there will be one holster in your collection that you will usually go back to.
Mexican Style ( No Holster)
Just shoving the gun into your pants will work, but not real well. You have no retention or security to keep it from sliding out or down your leg, or keeping it in position for ready access.
Ladies and Concealed Carry
The female form provides a whole new set of opportunities for the holster industry. Most holsters are made with the male frame in mind. For those of you that haven't figured out the obvious, men and women are built differently. Ladies generally have an hour glass figure and shorter in the waist. The most frequent complaints from women are that the holster rides too high to reach comfortably and digs into their ribs or breasts. A number of quality holster makers including Del Fatti, Kramer, Chris Cunningham, Sunrise Leather, and many others build holsters specifically designed for women. The important lesson here is that women have special needs in a holster and there are products out there which address these needs. Don’t let a clerk at the local gun store stick you with a holster that doesn’t work and digs into your ribs.
Purses, Bags, Backpacks, Brief cases
There are a number of companies who make concealment purses, bags, backpacks and brief cases for handgun carry. Usually the purse has a hidden compartment in the middle seam of the purse. Again this is not as good a carry method as having the handgun on your person. However it beats the devil out of leaving it in our glove compartment or your house. These methods of carry offer a potential security nightmare. Many times the bad guy will snatch your bag and run, leaving you unarmed and another handgun in the hands of a puke. Carrying any of the above may not fit the situation and look awkward or out of place - They may just scream HANDGUN to the wrong person.
Regardless how you decide to carry your defensive handgun, the key is to practice your drawing and shooting from your normal carry method. Once you have mastered the basic shooting techniques it will be time to learn the correct drawing technique and practice until you can do it instinctively.
By M.R. Hilton